Another week, another republican debate. It was CNN’s turn again to throw some people up on stage and see what happened. On the whole, CNN did a much better job than others have at holding candidates accountable for attempting to interrupt, going over their allotted time and behaving inappropriately. Two candidates complained that they weren’t being asked enough questions: Carly Fiorina, who was lucky to be on stage at all and Ben Carson who is on his way down. So the winner of tonight’s debate: is CNN for clearing the embarrassingly low bar of not screwing up.
As for the answers the candidates themselves gave, here are the top ten loads of crap or bizarre insanity and the truth you’ll need at the water cooler:
1. Chris Christie trying to scare the hell out of America
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took the Rudy Giuliani approach in the GOP debate Tuesday night. He started out referencing the threats made in Los Angeles and New York, claimed he’s “fought terrorists and won” and used the words “former federal prosecutor” four different times.
America doesn’t need another president who governs out of fear the way George W. Bush did. Remember the Republican Convention in 2004 when they just kept saying “September 11th” over and over again? That was what Christie was like Tuesday night.
Christie’s other problem is his constant reference to being a federal prosecutor and going after terrorists. PolitiFact has refuted Christie claims that he started prosecuting terrorists right after 9/11 as he didn’t take office until that following year. Prosecuting suspected terrorists in a court of law is nowhere near close to calling in an air strike or giving the order to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. There is also some question as to some of those Christie did prosecute and if innocent people went to jail.
2. Carly Fiorina trying to be a feminist
In her first statements, Fiorina talked about fighting her “way to the top of corporate America while being called every B word in the book.” She also quoted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher “If you want something talked about, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
Fiorina is far from it. In previous debates she outright lied about Planned Parenthood and has attempted to redefine feminism in a pretty disturbing way. For example, Fiorina says a feminist is “a woman who lives the life she chooses” and claims “we will have arrived when every woman can decide for herself how to best find and use her God-given gifts.” Now, that’s all well and good if you’re talking about full equality and giving women options without penalizing them for choices. But Fiorina turns it instead into a kind of corporate spun feminism that lacks reproductive choice and any real options for women.
Fiorina consistently ignores women in poverty when she addresses the issues women face. She also refuses to acknowledge the role that financial stability, wages and health care play on women who seek abortions. Equal pay? Forget about it. Fiorina gets some of the problems that women face but refuses to provide any suggestions for how the government can equal the playing field. Let’s be realistic, if the so-called “free market” respected women in business, these problems wouldn’t exist.
3. Ted Cruz says President Obama isn’t doing anything and Cruz will personally hunt down and kill terrorists.
“Our enemy is not violent extremism,” Cruz began the debate claiming. “It is not some unnamed malevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorist. We have a president who is unwilling to utter its name… We need a president who understands the first obligation of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. If I am elected president, we will hunt down and kill the terrorists. We will utterly destroy ISIS.” Later on, in the debate, you heard moderator Wolf Blitzer question Cruz on his statement that he would “carpet bomb” Syria.
The right-wing needs to spend a little less time talking about sentence structure and a little more time on specifics for fighting ISIS. Cruz’s problem is when you try and pinpoint his specifics, things get a little confusing. He’s already been called out by PolitiFact on claims that the US is not bombing Syria because of climate change. So obviously false, it’s embarrassing.
Then Cruz said:
“What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS. To put things in perspective. In the first Persian Gulf War, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet bombed them for 37 days. Saturation bombing after which our troops went in and mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army. Right now Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. We need to use overwhelming air power and we need to be arming the Kurds and we need to be fighting and killing ISIS where they are.”
To help Cruz out a little, the term “carpet bombing” refers to essentially laying waste to populated areas with random missiles.
BLITZER: To be clear, Senator Cruz, would you carpet bomb Raqqa, where there are a lot of civilians? Yes or no.
CRUZ: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is. The location of the troops. You use air power directed. But the object isn’t to level a city, the object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.
Ok, then Cruz doesn’t know what “carpet bombing” means. You can’t do a targeted attack and also carpet bomb. Period. If you want to be Commander in Chief, you probably ought to know what you’re talking about.
4. The Internet is still apparently a series of tubes….
God help them, some of these candidates (namely Donald Trump) honestly don’t know how the internet works.
Here’s an excerpt of Trump’s quotes:
“Well, look, this is so easy to answer. ISIS is recruiting through the Internet…”
“I don’t want them using our Internet…”
“But we should be using our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds to figure a way that ISIS cannot use the Internet. And then second, we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is and everything about ISIS.”
Finally, when pressed by Blitzer about whether Trump would “close parts of the internet” Trump said yes.
The World Wide Web is so-called because it is worldwide and also owned by the world. The United States doesn’t own the Internet. The technology that led to the creation of the Internet might have come from the United States, but we don’t own the whole internet.
Preventing ISIS from using the internet would be a pretty substantial undertaking and it’s also a really stupid idea. Stopping an entire area from having access to the internet requires on the ground destruction of an antenna, any cable wire, servers etc, but it also requires that we essentially blow satellites out of the sky.
Let’s say ISIS uses Evil Corp cell phones and data plan (they don’t this is just an example). Evil Corp might serve three small countries and millions of subscribers. The United States blows their satellites out of space and not only do millions lose their service, but you’ve just bankrupted a company. What do terrorists do? They have their people in other countries go grab some new phones from Suckit Phones. What do you do then?
Also, think about the valuable information that is gathered through Internet communication with ISIS. Oh… that’s right, Trump doesn’t get that information. If we isolate ISIS and make it impossible for them to communicate through conventional methods they’ll find ways we don’t know about and aren’t tracking. The more technology they use that we’re familiar with and we’re monitoring, the better.
I don’t understand what Trump is talking about when he says “close parts of the Internet.” There is certainly a portion of the web I think is worthless, but the portions of the internet that ISIS would be using to communicate would likely be run by multinational billion-dollar corporations like email companies, social media giants, etc… If Trump decides to “close” that, we’re now talking about destabilizing the economy.
We cannot and should not ever elect anyone who doesn’t have a basic understanding of what the hell the internet is #GOPDebate
— Sarah Burris (@SarahBurris) December 16, 2015
5. Executive offices are far superior.
CHRISTIE: “If your eyes are glazing over like mine, this is what it’s like to be on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Something simple that really should end is “branch of government-bashing.” Somehow, officials who have served in an executive branch of government think that they are far superior to Senators or members of the House. While each office has its own unique challenges, all experiences contribute to the resume and credibility of a candidate. According to our Constitution, the legislative branch, not the executive, is the most powerful branch of government. Thus, having some experience in it is probably a good thing.
If that doesn’t convince Chris Christie that governors are nothing special, think about it this way: George W. Bush was the governor of Texas.
TRUMP: “People are pouring across the southern border”
False. It’s that simple.
CRUZ: “Border security is national security and we will not be letting in the jihadists. We will keep America safe.” … “We will build a wall that works and I’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it.”
All security is national security. Airport security is national security. Port security is national security. We all want to be secure, but the 9/11 terrorists, Boston Bombers and San Bernardino shooters didn’t come into the United States on the back of a donkey over the US/Mexico border. Let’s not take our eye off the ball to fight a war against an imaginary flood of people pouring over the border. Proposing such a thing is reckless.
7. Generals retired early because President Obama didn’t listen to them
FIORINA: “One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, brings back the warrior class — Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Everyone was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.”
No. First of all General David Petraeus resigned after an FBI investigation revealed he shared classified information with his mistress. Stanley McChrystal resigned after Rolling Stone published a profile on him where he mocked members of the Obama administration including the Vice President of the United States and then-Afghanistan advisor Richard Holbrooke.
8. King Hussein of Jordan
CHRISTIE: “When I stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and I say to him, ‘You have a friend again, sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,’ he’ll change his mind.”
He’s been dead for 16 years, so that’s going to be an interesting meeting.
This is actually something Christie should know because King Hussein’s son King Abdullah II paid $30,000 for his family vacation.
9. No one in the middle east is helping with Syrian refugees
PAUL: “Nobody in the Middle East is doing anything. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait. All the Gulf nations are doing nothing. They need to step up and take refugees.”
Um… Turkey took in 1 million refugees and they’re expected to take in half a million more.
Lebanon, who isn’t a member of the 1951 Refugee Convention, has taken in about a million refugees.
Jordan has taken in hundreds of thousands, which we know because Ben Carson visited them.
So then Paul must have realized what he said wasn’t true and tried to say it was the “Gulf states” specifically naming Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. But here’s the thing, Saudi Arabia says it has taken 2 million, but because they’re not a member of the UN there are no official counts.
10. Cutting military spending will cash strap them so much we’ll be vulnerable.
RUBIO: “airstrikes are important. But we need to have an Air Force capable of it and because of the budget cuts we are facing in this country, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force we have ever had.”
No, no, no, no.
The United States has the largest military in the world. It’s so big and expensive that it comes close to spending what the rest of the world combined spends. We’re going to be just fine by asking the military to streamline rather than spend billions on planes we never use just because they’re made in some dude’s district.